ERCOT declares Energy Emergency Alert as grid reserves briefly drop below critical threshold Wednesday evening

Last time an EEA 2 was issued was during the February 2021 winter storm
Power lines
Photo credit TebNad / Getty Images

AUSTIN ( -- The amount of reserve power on Texas' electric grid briefly dipped below a critical threshold Wednesday evening, prompting officials to issue an energy emergency for the first time in more than two years.

Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, issued an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) Level 2 at 7:25 p.m. Wednesday. It's the first time an EEA 2 has been issued since the February 2021 winter storm.

ERCOT's guidelines call for an EEA 2 to be issued "when operating reserves are less than 1,750 megawatts and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes." An additional trigger for an EEA 2 is when the grid's frequency - normally 60 hertz - falls below 59.91 hertz for 15 minutes.

Officials said the grid officially returned to normal operations around 9 p.m., though ERCOT dashboards showed conditions quickly recovered just minutes after the EEA 2 alert was triggered.

Once an EEA Level 2 has been issued, ERCOT is able to ask utilities across the state to turn off power to large industrial customers that have agreed to have their electricity shut off during an emergency event. It also allows for ERCOT to access additional "demand response resources" to address tight operating conditions.

If the amount of available reserves were to continue to fall, an EEA Level 3 can be issued. At that point, ERCOT will order utilities across the state to reduce demand on the system through "controlled outages" - otherwise known as rolling blackouts.

Earlier Wednesday, ERCOT issued a Conservation Appeal from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., due to "continued high temperatures, high demand, low wind, and declining solar power generation" this evening.

The agency says it also requested that all government agencies, including city and county offices, implement all energy reduction programs at their facilities.

ERCOT remains under a Weather Watch through Friday, after setting a new September peak demand record of 78,459 megawatts on Monday. So far this summer, the ERCOT grid has set 10 new all-time peak demand records.

Featured Image Photo Credit: TebNad / Getty Images